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Political commentary from Andrew Malcolm

Category: Governors

Tim Pawlenty quits after third-place straw-poll finish


You can argue the Ames Straw Poll is merely a beauty contest and doesn't matter, but for former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty -- like others before him -- it was enough to break his campaign's back.

Pawlenty went on ABC News' "This Week" on Sunday and told correspondent Jake Tapper that he was ending his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination less than a full day after a disappointing third-place finish in the Ames Straw Poll. He came in well behind winner Rep. Michele Bachmann and close second-place finisher Rep. Ron Paul.

His name was in the mix early as a GOP presidential contender, and as a "two-term governor of a blue state," as he described himself to Tapper, he felt that track record of working across the aisle would be a plus.

But the quick rise of fellow Minnesota politician Bachmann, the continued presence of...

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Gov. Rick Perry text: 'We cannot afford 4 more years of this'

Texas Republican governor Rick Perry takes the stage to announce his presidential candidacy RedState Gathering Charleston SC Andrew Malcolm  8-13-11

Gov. Rick Perry's candidacy statement at RedState Gathering, as provided by

Howdy. Thank you, Erick [Erickson, editor of RedState]. It is great to be at RedState. And I’ll
tell you what, it’s even better to be governor of the largest red state in America.

It’s sure good to be back in the Palmetto State, in South Carolina. I enjoy coming to places where
people elect folks like Nikki Haley, true conservatives. And also where they love the greatest
fighting force on the face of the earth…the United States Military.

And I want to take a moment and ask you to just take a silence, think about those young Navy
SEALs and the other special operators who gave it all in the service of their country. Just take a
moment to say 'Thank you, Lord, that we have those kind of selfless, sacrificial men and women.
Their sacrifice was immeasurable, their dedication profound, and we will never, ever forget

I stand before you today as the governor of Texas. But I also stand before you as the son of two tenant farmers, Ray Perry, who came home after 35 bombing missions over Europe to work his little corner of land out there, and Amelia who made sure my sister Milla and I had everything that we needed, including hand-sewing my clothes until I went off to college.

(The RedState Gathering scene story at the Perry announcement in Charleston, S.C.)

I am also the product of a place called Paint Creek. Doesn’t have a zip code. It’s too....

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Rick Perry joins the GOP fray: 'This is gonna be a fun ride!'

Rick Perry RedState 8-13-11

"This," Rick Perry told me as he took the stage to launch his presidential campaign, "is gonna be a fun ride!"

Then the three-term conservative governor of Texas was bounding onto the stage, saying, "Let's get this thing started." He told the RedState Gathering, an enthusiastic crowd of conservative writers, and a national TV audience:

It is time for Americans to believe again, to believe that the promise of our future is far greater than even the best days of our past. It is time to believe again in the potential of private enterprise, set free from the shackles of an overbearing federal government.

And it is time to truly restore our standing in the world and renew our faith in freedom as the best hope of peace in a world beset with strife.

The crowd stood, chanting, "Perry! Perry! Perry!"

"America is not broken," Perry exhorted, "Washington, D.C., is broken.”

Full text of Perry announcement is here.

They didn't need no schtinking straw vote in Charleston on Saturday afternoon. Perry becomes the ninth candidate seeking the Republican presidential nomination in Tampa next year.

Given his executive record of tax-cutting, his undefeated record as a statewide candidate in the nation's second-largest state, his fundraising prowess and the lingering thirst among many GOP members for a charismatic, true conservative, Perry immediately joins the top tier.Rick Perry campaign Logo

He immediately flew off to New Hampshire to Pamela Tucker's home for the kind of living room politics beloved in the Granite State, home of the first primary next winter.

On Sunday, Perry will speak at a Lincoln dinner in Waterloo, Iowa, before returning to New Hampshire next week.

"I will work every day," Perry told the Charleston crowd, "to make Washington, D.C., as inconsequential in your lives as I can, and free our families, small businesses and states from a burdensome and costly federal government, so they can create, innovate and succeed. With the help and courage of the American people, we will get our country working again."

The 61-year-old former Air Force pilot, lieutenant governor, state representative and agriculture commissioner said he comes from Paint Creek, Texas, a tiny town so small it doesn't even have a ZIP pcode. And speaking of Washington, he lit into President Obama for the recent unprecedented downgrade of the federal government's credit rating:

In reality, this is just the most recent downgrade. The fact is for nearly three years, President Obama has been downgrading American jobs, downgrading our standing in the world, downgrading our financial stability, downgrading confidence and downgrading the hope of a better future for our children.

The governor recited some of his state's legislative achievements, including balancing the budget with no new taxes and enacting 'loser-pays' lawsuit reforms. And, of course, jobs. Texas has created 40% of all new jobs in the United States in the past two years. Yet, Perry said:

"One in six work-eligible Americans cannot find a full-time job. That is not a recovery. That is an economic disaster."

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photos: Andrew Malcolm / Los Angeles Times (Perry).

Sarah Palin, in Iowa, still sees room for others in the Republican field

Sarah Palin at the Iowa state Fair 8-12-11

It may not surprise you a whole lot to learn that despite the already months-long campaign, the two major debates, the Ames (Iowa) straw poll tomorrow and Texas Gov. Rick Perry's imminent entry into the GOP race, Sarah Palin still thinks there's room in the crowd for more.

As long as they have executive experience, of course. And are common-sense conservatives.

Coincidental to absolutely nothing, Palin appeared at the politico-magnet Iowa State Fair today, continuing her "One Nation" bus tour in the nation's first nominating state.

"There is still plenty of room in that field for common-sense conservatives who have executive experience," Palin said during a fair visit. "Watching the debate not just last night but watching this whole process over the last year it certainly shows me that yeah, there is plenty of room for more people."

Tomorrow just up the road from Des Moines is the Ames, where the straw poll means nothing and everything at the same time. (C-SPAN and Fox News Channel all day.)

Nothing because it has no binding value on anyone to do anything; it just gives the media something to get excited about in mid-summer. Everything because success or failure in just a few thousand PR ballot totals will catapult or doom some of the lesser-known candidacies.

Palin is not participating, but she will return to Iowa over Labor Day to keynote a tea party rally and -- who knows? -- perhaps see if there's still room in the Republican nominating race for someone with executive experience like, say, a former governor with a documentary movie coming out to wider release then.

Palin said she was pleased that her friend Rick Perry, the governor of Texas, was presumably entering the nomination contest tomorrow during a speech to online conservative writers in Charleston, S.C. "I appreciate that he is willing to jump into this arena," she added.

Hmmm, "this" arena? Meaning the one she's in too? Without saying so?

After his remarks to the RedState Gathering in South Carolina, Perry will fly to New Hampshire for a reception and then speak on Sunday in Iowa -- coincidentally, in Waterloo, the hometown of fellow Republican candidate Michele Bachmann.

Also coincidentally, after the Perry schedule came out recently, Bachmann agreed to speak at the very same Sunday event.

What a small world!


What to watch for in the Ames Straw Poll

Did Ron Paul win the GOP debate in Ames Thursday?

Sarah Palin grades Obama on the downgrade: 'Disgraceful and embarrassing'

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Sarah Palin at the Iowa State Fair on Aug. 12. Credit: Charles Dharapak / Associated Press

Wisconsin news: Unions' recall drive falls short; GOP holds state Senate

Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker

Labor unions and Democrats counted on gaining three state Senate seats in Tuesday's recall votes across Wisconsin to demonstrate a repudiation of Republicans' reform drive there.

However, they got only two. And now two Democrats face recalls in elections next week.

So, no voter repudiation of Republican senators who marched with new Republican Gov. Scott Walker in a major reform drive last winter that drew round-the-clock union protests in Madison.

John Hogan, director of the Committee to Elect a Republican Senate. called the election results "a huge victory."

"Voters gave us a mandate last fall," he added. "They backed us up again. Voters told us loud and clear, 'Stay the course. Things are working.'"

More than $35 million has been spent by parties and outside interest groups on a handful of state races, compared with less than $20 million in all of last year's 115 legislative contests. The GOP now still holds control of state government -- the governor's office, the House and the state Senate, 17-16.

Such control allowed Walker, a former Milwaukee county government executive, to drive through a package of legislation that included curtailing collective bargaining rights for most public unions and having members contribute more to their own pensions, as a means to grow the economy and attract new jobs. 

The outside groups, however, were not filling the coffers of Wisconsin TV stations just to ensure fine representation for the citizens of La Crosse and Racine. Walker's successful push, mirrored by Republican governors in Ohio, Florida, New Jersey and elsewhere, became a proxy for the ongoing national debate over big government vs smaller government, more spending vs less.

Unions hoped to stop the movement in cheese land. And opponents vowed to try to recall Walker next year.

It's a political theme being fought in Washington and sure to become familiar as the national campaigns gain momentum for 2012.


Obama administration job approval hits a new low

He's done so well with economy, Geithner will stay

Obama's penchant for speeches sounding hollower by the word

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Andy Manis / Associated Press (Walker).


What Gov. Jerry Brown said on national TV: 'The Democrats have to wake up'

Democrat California Governor Jerry Brown with wife Anne Gust, file

Transcript of California Gov. Jerry Brown on 'State of the Union,' as provided by CNN

CANDY CROWLEY, HOST, CNN'S "STATE OF THE UNION": Governor, first of all, thank you so much for joining us.  I wanted you to take a California look at what's been going on in Washington.  We have just finished up a very grueling debt debate.  From your perspective, what did that tell you about Washington?

GOV. JERRY BROWN (D), CALIFORNIA:  Well, the obvious, that's it's dysfunctional, but more than that, that the Washington of today is suffering and experiencing a governability crisis.America can't govern when you have two parties so diametrically opposed. I think that is an ominous sign going forward. 

CROWLEY:  Do you have a solution for that, because I think you're right, I think people look....

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Sarah Palin in Iowa for premiere of 'The Undefeated,' a new chapter in the politics of documentaries


Sarah Palin heads to Iowa on Tuesday, but whether or not electoral politics are involved is in the eye of the beholder.

Palin has to face jury duty in July in Alaska, but, according to the Christian Science Monitor, the former Alaska governor and her husband, Todd Palin, are first going to Pella, Iowa, for the June 28 premiere of "The Undefeated."

Filmmaker Stephen K. Bannon's documentary portrait of Palin and her political record goes into limited distribution by ARC Entertainment in AMC Theatres the week of July 15 (locally, it will be in the City of Orange, in Orange County).

Interestingly -- likely coincidentally -- President Obama will also be in Iowa on Tuesday, promoting manufacturing jobs in Bettendorf. No word whether the two have a date to split corn dogs, but we doubt it.

Approached by Palin's camp to produce short films for SarahPAC, Bannon decided instead....

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Quietly and steadily, Mitt Romney continues to creep ahead in developing Republican race

Republican Mitt Romney campaigns in Colorado 6-11

The summer has just begun. It's still very early. A lot can happen in the 14 month run-up to the Republican National Convention in Tampa. Yada Yada Yada.

But right now Republican voters seem to have decided a) they're more interested in winning than refining social issue purity, b) the economy is the top topic (also No. 2  and 3 actually) and c) they seem to be lining up for now behind Mitt Romney as their guy. More than half say they're dissatisfied with the overall field, so nothing is set in cement yet.

Romney, a former governor who finished behind another former governor, Mike Huckabee, and the old pilot back in the 2008 GOP race has actually been quietly running ever since.

He's been raising money for himself and others and making endless small talk from table to table at countless Lincoln Day dinners and beyond. People don't forget that. And if a candidate remembers their name at the next encounter, he or she has won a vote.

Romney's been the presumed frontrunner all year and some polls show him now pulling ahead of the rest of the field after just one New Hampshire debate.

This morning comes a new Bloomberg National Poll documenting that nearly six-out-of-ten Republicans (59%) hold a favorable view of the successful businessman who salvaged the 2002 Winter Olympics and made a private fortune. While only 16% hold a negative view of him.Michele Bachmann

This, of course, paints a large crosshair on the 64-year-old Romney's back and chest too for the other much lesser known GOP wannabes to attempt to boost his negatives in the upcoming debates.

Another helpful finding if the party of Lincoln is interested in actually defeating the Illinois guy: Romney is already 10 points more popular than unpopular among those decisive independent voters.

The new Bloomberg survey finds Romney's party and the tea party wing in less favor among many voters.

Primary races are a time of testing for candidates and learning the galactic array of local issues that form the political templates of crucial early states -- Iowa, where Romney will not be competing hard, New Hampshire, where he seems to rule, South Carolina, Florida and beyond.

This is Romney's second political prom and he looks more comfortable and confident than the others so far.

While the media tends to focus on scheduled events like debates, straw polls and candidate forums, many primary voters use those events to confirm impressions they've already developed through a series of anecdotal experiences watching and listening over many months.

Thus, the new folks -- Michele Bachmann will be officially running next week and probably Rick Perry later -- have some ground to catch up. Bloomberg found Bachmann already has 43% favorable vs only 12% unfavorable.

She's been out speaking quietly at state events for more than a year now and, according to some long-time pols we've checked with, impressed many with her speaking style, personal story, energy and ideas.

After all the hoo-hah and excitement surrounding the fresh, new change agent in the 22-month long 2008 primary and general elections -- and the disappointment of many in him and the economy since -- we may be seeing now the quiet evolution of Republican voter comfort with a more stolid style of change.


Sarah Palin's letter from God

The telltale signs of a Rick Perry 2012 campaign

Obama admits thinking like a Republican some days i.e. one term for himself

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: John Moore / Getty Images; Emmanuel Dunand / AFP / Getty Images (Bachmann).

Mitt Romney 'doesn't know who he is,' claims Harry Reid

Harry Reid

Mitt Romney is a flip-flopper who "doesn't know who he is," Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Tuesday in Washington. 

“He was for gay marriage when he was governor. Now he’s against it. He was for abortion when he was governor. Now he’s against it. Healthcare — we modeled our bill to a large degree [on] what he did in Massachusetts. Now he’s trying to run from that. If someone doesn’t know who they are, they shouldn’t be president of the United States,” the Senate majority leader said to reporters.

"The front-runner in the Republican stakes now — here’s a man who doesn’t know who he is." 

Conservatives already may have gotten the message. According to a new Zogby poll of probable Republican voters, 24% of those polled favor Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann over the rest of the pack. Romney and businessman Herman Cain were tied for second with 15%.

Reid went on to say that he would "favor" fellow Mormon and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who today threw his hat in the ring, over Romney, who is also a Mormon.

According to the Associated Press, Andrea Saul, a spokeswoman for Romney, said the campaign isn’t seeking Reid’s backing and wouldn’t accept it if it were offered.

Ouch. It's the first day of summer and things are already getting hot under the collar.


Jon Huntsman enters the GOP race

Mitt Romney surges as GOP debate season opens

Ron Paul leads Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney in Republican (book) race

-- Tony Pierce

Photo: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. Credit: AP Photo/Susan Walsh

Jon Huntsman's big day, Republicans and Mormons and trouble for Utah's Orrin Hatch

Jon Huntsman and wife Mary Kaye greet a motorcycle rider in New Hampshire, 6-11

Some elected folks we know have confessed that the best day of any election campaign is the day a candidate announces. All things seem possible. Optimism reigns. The usually nattering media is attentive.

Today Jon Huntsman, who's been registering near zero on the scale of Republican name-recognition, gets his shot at the best day of his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.

The former Utah governor and overseas ambassador for two presidents will launch his bid in New Jersey near the Statue of Liberty and then fly up to New Hampshire to do it again in the nation's first primary state.

Wednesday Huntsman will do it a third time in South Carolina, apparently leaving Iowa to the homegrown Michele Bachmann and next-door neighbor Tim Pawlenty. It will be interesting to see how Huntsman, the only major GOP candidate with any real foreign policy experience, tries to differentiate himself from the possible candidates like Texas Gov. Rick Perry and the existing field, including fellow former governor and Mormon Mitt Romney.

Speaking of Mormons, good news for Romney and Huntsman: A recent Gallup Poll found Republicans to be the political affiliation most open to supporting a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in the voting booth.Utah Republican senator Orrin Hatch

Fully 80% of GOP voters said they could vote for a Mormon, while a near identical 79% of independents agreed. However, only 71% of Democrats said they could vote for a Mormon.

The biggest difference in sentiment appeared in education level, with the more educated open to a Mormon candidate and the lesser educated less so.

Speaking of Mormon candidates, at this time last year one of the most endangered politicians seeking reelection was the nation's highest-ranking Mormon, Harry Reid, Democratic Senate Majority Leader. As it happened, he ended up having little trouble winning a fifth term from Nevada.

Now comes word that a senior Republican senator, Orrin Hatch of next-door Utah, may be in some trouble going for a seventh term in the general election, even if he survives a primary challenge. Last year, you may recall, Utah Republicans dumped Hatch's junior colleague Robert Bennett for Mike Lee.

A poll out last weekend from the Deseret News/KSL-TV finds that 59% of Utah voters feel it's time for a change after 36 years of Hatch. In a matchup against his most likely GOP challenger, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, the Republicans are virtually tied at 41% Chaffetz and 40% Hatch.

Even if Hatch survived that contest, the new poll finds that the man who became a senator at the end of Gerald Ford's presidency would as of now barely tie his likely Democratic opponent, Rep. Jim Matheson, at 47% apiece.


Texas Gov. Rick Perry's likely stump speech (video)

Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, yes, him again, wins another GOP straw poll

First N.H. debate: A bunch of GOP colleagues get together to criticize Obama

-- Andrew Malcolm

Don't forget to follow The Ticket via Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or click this: @latimestot. Our Facebook Like page is over here. We're also available on Kindle. Use the ReTweet buttons above to share any item with family and friends.

Photos: Brian Snyder / Reuters (Huntsman and wife Mary Kaye greet a New Hampshire voter); Associated Press (Hatch).


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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